from June 8, 2008
We were on the bus for the umpteenth hour and we were headed back to New York, with just one more school to see- Yale. Yale University late Saturday night after graduation was sure to be jumping, so I was looking forward to seeing the outside of yet another closed school, and a two hour ride was right up my alley.
The remaining meals, I mean kids, were subdued. We only had to yell “shut up!’ two or three times. It was rainy and dark and we were tired. Maria and Ray had fallen asleep across the aisle from each other to cleverly make it look like there was nothing between them and I put The Perfect Storm on the DVD player.
The Perfect Storm is the true story of some New England fisherman who set out in their boat to fish the dangerous Reef of Doom, home to the tastiest swordfish this side of Atlantis. You see, the captain, played by George Clooney had a streak of bad luck. Despite being George Clooney and all the charisma that entails, he had not caught a single fish all season. In fact, the closest he came to a fish was when he saw the menu at Red Lobster. (He ordered the shrimp.) Well, Clooney and his men set sail for the farthest point on their map. Had they gone even one inch further they would have sailed right off the edge of the world. (These were old-school sailors. No fancy globes for them! Copernicus be damned. He wasn’t a fisherman.) So after taking a long and excruciating tour of coastal colleges they finally arrived and wouldn’t you know it? Some other guys got there first and caught all the fish. “You should have been here yesterday!” So they turned around and sailed straight into not one but three storms. Perfect! Long story short, they all died.
That was the peppy and upbeat film I put on the DVD player. Just the right thing to watch on a dark and rainy day- guys dying in a storm. But at least they didn’t resort to cannibalism- there were no students on board. Come to think of it, there were no women on board either but I won’t go there, not even to make my “salty seamen” joke.
Well, my monitor went out. Clooney looked all squiggly and Mark Wahlberg developed a strange case of facial blurriness. So I moved across the aisle (to my left) and sat next to Liz.
The lights were low. Everyone around us was asleep. The driver turned around and gave me a wink. It wasn’t long at all until, finally, Liz and I…..
… watched the movie.
What? What did you expect?
The rain had let up when we arrived in New Haven Connecticut, proud home of Yale University. It was, I think, somewhere between six-thirty and one hundred o’clock. The plan was to walk around Yale and go to a burger place that Maria had heard about for dinner. Then home. “Home,” ah yes, the mythical “Home.” Seems to me that I had been home once, long before leaving on this Odyssey. And much like Odysseus of myth, I already suspected that my family had given up on me and my friends despaired of ever seeing me again. (OK, my family gave up on me years ago and my friends already figure they’ll never see me again, so this isn’t much of a stretch. But its a nice literary touch and how about the use of the phrase “despaired of ever seeing me again”? I am an English teacher.)
Many of the kids had had it already. Probably 2/3 of them decided that they didn’t give a damn about Yale and just wanted to get home instead of walking around in the rain with us kooks. They were the smart ones and they stayed in the bus and prayed they would get home someday.
Well, New Haven seems like a nice quiet college town, at least the part we saw. It is a nice and affluent town, and even the homeless in the park were a little less shabby than the New York bums. Compared to the Chicago homeless, these guys were positively angelic. (See my old Chicago blogs for more on the Chicago homeless. Shameless plug!)
Well, the driver didn’t really know where to stop. (“What do you think, baby? That the entrance over there? I’ll find a place to park over there, baby.” I swear, if he hit on Liz one more time his fly would have melted.) We ended up a couple of blocks ahead of the school and walked through the park, where we were not accosted by the polite homeless and came to a church which was not part of Yale but we had to go into anyway. Liz has to visit churches, especially old and historic ones, which I must admit is cool, so I went in too with a few of the kids.
Something was going on in the church. People were filling in and were being greeted at the door. It may have been a wedding or a confirmation of perhaps Jesus had just risen. What did I know? I’m Jewish. But I went in anyway because it was a cool looking old church and Liz had gone in and maybe I’d have to get her out if there was trouble. Maria stayed outside, partially because she was asking random passersby where to find the burger place but mainly because she might have spontaneously combust if she set foot on holy ground.
Turns out it was a concert of some sort and we exited after a couple of uncomfortable minutes where I was sure that at any minute someone would walk up to me and explain the concept of tithing.
We crossed the street and walked down the block to find the entrance to the Yale campus. We found it, and we also found a nice old lady headed to the concert who gave us directions and also told us that Yale was where they filmed the Marshall College parts of Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull. (Yale therefore earned us two college points, bringing the total college tally to around 986 at that point.) And yes Marc, there is a new Indiana Jones movie.
YES! I WANT TO GO TO YALE WHEN I GROW UP! Remember when Indy and Mutt (still hate that name) motorcycle through the library? That was actually filmed in the dining hall. We walked right into a wide open dorm (I hope the Department of Homeland Security is reading this, and they probably are.) and saw the most magnificent architecture I ever saw in a foyer. It was better than that painting of the dogs playing poker, it was so cool. I also took the opportunity to find the Yale bathrooms, which were much nicer, bigger, and had better toilet paper than Harvard. Take that Philadelphia- I mean Harvard! For those of you keeping score, I have now taken a dump in two Ivy League schools, both in the same day. Why couldn’t we have stopped in Princeton so I could get the Northeastern Trifecta?
We then went to the dining hall, which was locked. We tried every door and they were all locked, until a kid tried the door all the way on the end and it was open. I think he may have picked the lock in hopes of currying some favor so we wouldn’t eat him. Well, in we went and there we were, right were Harrison Ford acted it up. So cool! I had just seen the movie a few days ago and the Raiders theme was still echoing in my head (it didn’t help that I had spent the past month on the bus) as I looked around and saw the kids rearranging the tables. I swear that is true! They sat down and immediately began to move around the plates and settings. I yelled at them to get up and saw Maria and some kids over at the soda machine helping themselves to drinks. I was sure we were going to get thrown out- at any time I expected someone to walk in and demand to know what we were doing there. But I was more afraid of what Liz would do to Maria if she got us banned from Yale so we got the kids out of there. And on the way out they were playing with the computers behind the register and had to be chased out of there too.
We walked around the campus in the rain and some of the smarter kids found a fountain and started splashing, like the rain wasn’t making us wet enough. They also stuck sticks and an umbrella in the fountain. Nice.
And that was Yale.
We walked to the bus in the rain, me without hat or umbrella, Maria in some kid’s sweater that she had commandeered, and Liz in a wet t-shirt. I’m a good boy. I only looked at her from the neck up. She teaches Sunday school.
We asked the kids on the bus if they were hungry and they all got nervous, but when we told then that we’d be walking to a restaurant they calmed down and a few came with us, the rest stayed on the bus. We were getting the food to go so we could eat it, yes, on the bus.
To Be Concluded in Part Last: Louie’s Lunch, gambling, and I get loopier.